The time to think about remedies for dog diarrhea is long before your pup does a reenactment of the famous Bridesmaids scene. Simply put, the runs ain’t fun for anyone!
One of the inevitable truths of living with our domesticated Lobos is that there will be diarrhea. Hopefully not a lot or often. But, just like free entertainment and unconditional love, our dogs come with a guarantee of the occasional bout of loose stools.
And you don’t want to be flummoxed by puddles, squirts, and a circling, straining, miserable dog.
What causes diarrhea in dogs in the first place?
In most cases, dog diarrhea comes down to one of the following:
- Nondiscretionary eating (“What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is mine, what’s on the floor is mine, what’s in the grass is mine…it’s all mine.”)
- Sudden change in diet, especially if a dog has been eating the same food with no variety for a long period of time
- Stress, which can cause an interruption of the natural peristalsis, or gut rhythm
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel disease (IBD)
- Food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infections
- Parasites (e.g. Giardia, especially if chronic and/or intermittent; tapeworms)
Help! My dog has diarrhea. What do I do right now?
Before you start searching for what to give a dog for diarrhea, you need to assess the situation.
First, look at your dog. Is he presenting with signs of dehydration, lethargy, weakness, debilitation, and/or fever? If so, you have an emergency on your hands, especially if your dog is a senior and/or is medically compromised.
Call your vet or the emergency hospital immediately. If possible, take a quick video of your dog and the diarrhea to help your vet best advise you.
Second, gross as it is, look closely at the diarrhea. If there is blood, treat it as an emergency.
Look for anything else that may also seem suspicious — worms, ingested objects, pieces of plants, etc. Use a stiff paper plate or cup to scoop some of the loose stool into a baggie to take with you to the vet.
If your dog is otherwise healthy and is behaving normally, you can monitor for up to three days before seeking veterinary care.
When in doubt, however, always reach out to your vet or emergency veterinary hospital.
Are there home remedies for dogs with diarrhea when it’s not an emergency?
You’ve probably heard so many “solutions” for dog diarrhea that you don’t know where to start. So, let’s start with an otherwise healthy dog with no obvious emergency symptoms.
One of the greatest risks of diarrhea is dehydration. This is because the transit time of food is accelerated through the gut, decreasing the amount of water that is reabsorbed into the body.
Dehydration can throw electrolytes and all the vital organs into imbalance. Therefore, maintain regular hydration with small amounts of water at a time.
As long as your vet says it is safe for your dog to go on a temporary fast, withhold food – but not water – for 12-24 hours.
This will give your pup’s gut time to rest and repair. Tissue can’t restore itself unless it’s resting, and any food in the gut will only keep the GI tract working.
After this temporary fast, you can begin a bland diet as the first line of remedy for your dog’s diarrhea.
You may have heard that feeding chicken and white rice is the best diet option until your dog’s diarrhea is cleared up. But white rice is a starchy carbohydrate that can ferment in the gut, leaving it vulnerable to opportunistic bacteria.
According to Dr. Karen Becker, the best bland diet for dogs with diarrhea is a 50:50 blend of cooked, non-fat ground turkey and 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix).
But if your vet recommends white rice, you can try out our sick dog food recipe as their bland food diet.
Pumpkin is called “the great equalizer” because it is an effective home remedy for dog diarrhea and constipation. It’s loaded with soluble fiber, which helps to absorb remaining moisture in the large intestine and slow transit time. It’s also high in potassium, which is an electrolyte easily depleted with diarrhea.
But what about rice water for dog diarrhea?
Rice water has been used for both beauty and health purposes for centuries. It’s a suspension of starch made by draining boiled rice.
Rice water has a binding effect in the gut, creating firmer, bulkier stools.
When given during the fasting period, it helps your dog stay hydrated while helping with digestion and providing some important minerals and carbohydrates for energy.
It’s important to use a quality white rice (not minute rice or brown rice). Simply boil 1 cup of rice in 4 cups of water. Strain and discard the rice, keeping the milky water. Cool and offer to your dog throughout the fasting period.
Are there herbs I can give my dog for diarrhea?
Slippery elm is frequently used in the holistic treatment of diarrhea in dogs and is a good herb to have on hand. It reduces inflammation, bulks the stool, and slows transit time. After consulting with your vet, it’s as simple as giving your dog the suggested dose of slippery elm powder mixed with water.
Herbs that can ease cramping and help soothe the gut include peppermint, fennel, and chamomile.
For other herbal remedies that help with the canine digestive tract, read here.
Can I give my dog yogurt to help with diarrhea?
Yes! Once his stool starts to firm up, you can introduce fat- and sugar-free plain yogurt into his post-fast diet as a good source of probiotics.
Can my dog have over-the-counter “people” meds for diarrhea?
You may hear dog owners casually recommend OTC medications like Pedialyte, Kaopectate, Pepto Bismol, or Imodium.
It is imperative that you never use medications formulated for humans with your pets unless advised to do so by your veterinarian.
Yes, your vet may recommend using one of the above familiar medications after evaluating the cause of your dog’s diarrhea. But you should give them only if recommended by your vet and only at the dose s/he advises.
Pedialyte, for example, can actually make an electrolyte imbalance worse. It also contains sugars and, in some cases, artificial sweeteners that can be toxic to dogs.
And the other OTC medications listed can actually do more harm than good, as they contain an ingredient that is a derivative of aspirin.
What prescription meds are used as remedies for diarrhea in dogs?
Two treatments your vet may prescribe for diarrhea are Endosorb and Metronidazole. Both help with diarrhea and digestive issues but are very different in their chemical makeup and action.
Endosorb acts by absorbing toxins that may be disrupting your dog’s GI tract, but it won’t help with bacterial infections.
Metronidazole (Flagyl), on the other hand, is actually an antibiotic formulated for humans and used by veterinarians in an off-label capacity to treat infections that cause diarrhea.
While diarrhea may seem like just another part of being a dog, it’s actually an indication that something isn’t right.
Before you go running (pun intended) for your home remedies for dog diarrhea, pay close attention to your dog (and yes, his disgusting output). Consider his age and health, and therefore his ability to handle a home regimen.
The origin of the problem will dictate the remedy. So a call to your vet is always a wise course of action.